“Pretty Little Liars”
Network: ABC Family
Production: Alloy Entertainment and Warner Horizon Television
Original Air Date: June 8, 2010
When It’s On: Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/PT
Cast: Lucy Hale (Privileged), Ashley Benson (Eastwick), Troian Bellisario (Navy NCIS), Shay Mitchell, Bianca Lawson (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The Vampire Diaires), Ian Harding (NCIS: Los Angeles), Laura Leighton (Melrose Place), Chad Lowe, Holly Marie Combs (Charmed), Nia Peeples and Sasha Pieterse (Heroes)
Executive Producers: Bob Levy (Privileged, Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries), Leslie Morganstein (Alloy Entertainment), Oliver Goldstick (Lipstick Jungle, Ugly Betty) and I. Marlene King (If These Walls Could Talk)
Developed and Written By: I. Marlene King
Director: Leslie Linka Glatter
Nielsen Ratings for Pilot: 2.6 Million Viewers
Review: Alloy Entertainment and Warner Bros. have done a terrific job with incorporating best-selling teen books into popular television series such as “Gossip Girl” and “The Vampire Diaries” on the CW. Both shows have interesting characters, exciting better-than-the-last episodes, great acting and fantastic writing. They’ve also not stuck exactly to the books, by creating different characters and plots. Deviating from the books can be a bad idea and vice versa, but so far it’s worked in the producers favor. I would say “Gossip Girl” and “The Vampire Diaries” are more “inspired” by the books than “based on” them.
For television viewers who have not read the book series “Pretty Little Liars” by Sara Shepard, the pilot episode was probably “pretty” hard to follow. I’m a huge fan of the books and I was excited to see that they were made into a television series, but after watching the pilot, I’m not so sure if I’ll tune in next week.
There was just not enough information given about the characters. The story line in the pilot was extremely confusing. At times, it felt like you better go read the books, first, in order to know what was going on. For instance, the “Pretty Little Liars” weren’t lying about anything, at least not yet. The pilot could have showed something to this affect, especially why the girls each hold a secret to the mysterious disappearance of Alison aka Ali. In the books, the girls lie about everything, so much to the point the reader can’t trust any of them which is why the books are so outstanding.
SPOILER: Because the missing case is now deemed a homicide, after Ali’s body is found, it would have been good to show why the police detective in charge of the case doesn’t buy the girls stories about the night Ali disappeared. What are their versions? The pilot doesn’t show they have any. END SPOILER
Yet, on the other hand, I felt too much information was put into the pilot. It needed to be spaced out by working up to the story of each character and the mysterious “A” that keeps leaving messages. It would be nice to get to know Aria, Spencer, Emily, Hanna and what some of their personal problems are. The pilot could have given the audience characters to like and root for (whether the characters are good or bad). This is an important asset to any screenplay. The pilot did not accomplish this.
The big question the pilot left with me is: Who’s Alison? There was only a small glimpse of her at the beginning and some meager flashbacks.Why should we care if she’s missing or even dead? The answer in the book series has disappeared from the television show.
“Pretty Little Liars” is like a “tween” version of “Desperate Housewives” meets “Gossip Girl,” plus a bunch of other shows we’ve already seen before.The characters in the books are sexy and have an edge. The characters in this show have only pretty faces. ”Pretty Little Liars” probably would have been better suited for the CW rather than on ABC Family, but executives for the CW passed on it.
Then, there was the acting: Not very good. The actresses’ vacant staring contests wore on my patience. There was way too much posing and not one character was believable or relatable. It was as if they were just going through the motions and waiting for their next line. All of the characters from the girls to the parents seemed cookie-cutter, without individual personalities.
The “Pretty Little Liars” books are a great mystery series for older teens. It’s a shame that the pilot did not live up to the hype. It definitely didn’t live up to the books. Sometimes, if a person hasn’t read the book and likes the show, he/she will want to read the books. I’m not sure if this will ever occur now, but with the lack of new television programming on this summer, “Pretty Little Liars” might have some staying power, at least with the teen-set and on ABC Family.
I’m giving the pilot 2 “What’s on the Tube Tonight?” retro pictures for effort.
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